Writing in the New York Times’ opinion pages, public editor Margaret Sullivan sheds more light on the internal reaction to Alessandra Stanley’s much-criticized article that called Shonda Rhimes an “angry black woman” and described Viola Davis as “less classically beautiful” than lighter-skinned black actresses. Sullivan quotes culture editor Danielle Mattoon:
“There was never any intent to offend anyone and I deeply regret that it did,” Ms. Mattoon said. “Alessandra used a rhetorical device to begin her essay, and because the piece was so largely positive, we as editors weren’t sensitive enough to the language being used.”
Ms. Mattoon called the article “a serious piece of criticism,” adding, “I do think there were interesting and important ideas raised that are being swamped” by the protests. She told me that multiple editors – at least three – read the article in advance but that none of them raised any objections or questioned the elements of the article that have been criticized.
“This is a signal to me that we have to constantly remind ourselves as editors of our blind spots, what we don’t know, and of how readers may react.”